That is the thought that I am stunned with over and over. Through all of the hustle and bustle of packing, I haven’t had a chance to think about the thought that we will be living in Africa. At first this thought brought about a little bit of panic, as I realized I hadn’t hardly prepared! I didn’t have my mosquito repellant or roll of toilet paper handy when we arrived, I hadn’t thought about adapting to cultural norms, how to greet, etc. But God blessed us with a very easy entrance (all of our team’s 37 bags arrived!) and we were met by our friend André Banda (church leader) and met our new friends and hosts, Paul and Katherine Evanson. I’ve quickly realized that Africa is comfortable.
We’ve rested now and made a couple of trips to the grocery store. The girls are settling in and really enjoying their new friends. Monday Danny started the daunting task of setting up life here, opening a bank account, etc. So far it has gone well, but it will be a long process. We don’t know when we will move to Huambo, but we are feeling rested, relaxed, and ready to get to know life here.
This last week was full of goodbyes amidst the packing and preparing. On Saturday, we went to the Makiesse family’s house for a true feast. This Angolan family has mentored our whole team over the year in Angolan culture.
Sunday we said goodbye to our church family here. They blessed us and prayed over us. There were many tears and many hugs. As I said to one of my teammates, it is very hard to say goodbye to people who welcomed me with open hearts in my moments of vulnerability entering a new country and not knowing the language.
Monday we had a 4th of July celebration at the home of some other American missionaries, Kevin and Angelina Mullins.
Tuesday was our last full team event, as we met and had dinner with Rusty, Laura, Alex, Stephen, and baby 3-peat Campbell, who will stay in Portugal until after their third son is born.
We have been blessed to know so many wonderful people here, and it is hard to be saying goodbye to our friends yet another time. One challenge (and blessing) of a missionary is to continue with an open heart to those new friends that you meet and to maintain connections all over the world. And so it is that we say goodbye while at the same time thinking and praying for the new friends that we will meet in Angola.
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Six days remain until our family will load up the church van with all the earthly belongings that we’ve managed to cram into our airplane luggage allowance and fly to Africa – with no return ticket.
The past several days have been filled with excitement and planning. Praise God with us for many answered prayers in regard to logistics. God has provided our team with a host in Luanda, transportation from the airport, and, amazingly, a house in Huambo. We have already arranged with the owners to rent the 3 bedroom house for 2 months, and once we actually see it we can arrange for a longer term contract. Please pray for wisdom as we figure out the best option for acquiring a vehicle for our family.
We have packed, unpacked, purged, and are now in the process of repacking. Hopefully this time we can squeeze it all into our bags. Praise God for missionary tickets with extra baggage allowance.
Our kids have been doing great, discovering new, fun things to play with, like suitcases and all of our piles. The next few days will be a flurry of goodbyes, final packing, cleaning, and lots of emotions! Please pray for continued well-being for all of us.
Our visas are here! Time to praise, party, and pack! Since last Sunday when we received word on our visas, we have all kind of been in shock. It is slowly sinking in, and the excitement and daunting task of moving are becoming reality. Everything I do now is preparation for the move – cooking up what we have in our pantry, estimating toothpaste, etc. And we have officially bought tickets for July 8th.
Praise God with us! Thank Him for visas, pray for Robert’s visa that has still not arrived, pray for the move, and pray for the people of Angola. Pray that our hearts will be open to a deeper understanding of God and His kingdom during this move and beginning of our work.
Well, it’s been a year and a half since our first visit to the Houston consulate, six months since our target move date went by, six weeks since our applications were accepted, and two weeks since they were resubmitted… and we are still waiting. It feels like we’ve been square dancing when what we really wanted to do was just walk forward!
These six ‘extra’ months in Portugal have been quite full of emotions. At first, there was some relief that it wasn’t quite time, as we still saw some needed work in the language. It was quite awe-inspiring as well as we’ve seen God unfold some powerful connections with two churches here in Portugal that will partner with us in our work in Angola through World Bible School and other means. It wasn’t until our language had reached functionality that we were able to communicate well enough to build these relationships.
We expected delays, but when we received word that the consulate had closed on the very day we also received our letters of invitation from Angola, it was incredibly discouraging. You can’t even expect something like that!
Even though the road to Angola so far has been the perfect place to learn to trust in God’s faithfulness, especially regarding visas, this process has still been hard. There have been tears and questioning amidst the prayers and peace. My prayers have constantly been that we will exhibit attitudes that glorify God and that we will learn more of God through this process. Right now we are still very much in the middle of this lesson, with all of the tension of seeing how it will work out.
Each day we wait, trying to wait well (which is hard as yearly events are beginning to repeat, constantly reminding us how long we’ve been here!), but we do know, with full confidence, deep down, that God is faithful, and that this journey is one worth taking.
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I (Katie) had my first experience teaching in Portuguese a few weeks ago. Teague and I volunteered for the 4-6 year old class. We taught a lesson about Paul and Silas and the Philippian Jailer. Although there were only three children that day (two of whom spoke English) it was very good practice for us. The kids really enjoyed acting out the story, complete with chains that they made out of paper strips with the memory verse on them. The songs were a big hit too. It was a fun and very beneficial experience.
Overall, language learning has entered a new phase. We have covered all of the major grammatical concepts and are now working on automaticity and vocabulary building. Our homework assignments are now just real-life tasks, like translating our website and writing lessons so that we will be prepared when we land in Angola. We are far from fluent and it seems like progress is less visible now, but conversations are slowly becoming less stilted. Please pray for continued motivation and encouragement.
The Angolan consulate in Houston has reopened! Our letters from Angola should be in the mail to Texas, so we are hopeful that we can apply very soon. Please continue to pray for no more unseen delays